November 9, 2022

Sydney man charged for allegedly trying to scam Optus breach victims

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Customer details allegedly taken from leaked database.

A 19-year-old man from Sydney, Australia has been charged with attempting to blackmail Optus customers whose personal information was leaked online. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) executed a search warrant at the suspect’s home in Rockdale, Sydney and confiscated a smartphone.

According to the police, the man allegedly sent text messages to 93 Optus customers, threatening to use their personal information for financial crimes unless they transferred $2000 to a bank account.
The customer details were reportedly posted on an online forum by the person responsible for the Optus data breach before being removed. The bank account that the 19-year-old man used allegedly belonged to a minor.

The police stated that at this time, it appears that none of the individuals who received the text message transferred any money to the account. The man has been charged with using a telecommunications network with the intent to commit a serious offense and dealing with identification information.
These charges carry maximum sentences of 10 years and 7 years imprisonment, respectively.

Assistant commissioner of cyber command, Justine Gough, stated that the man is not suspected of being the person responsible for the Optus data breach, but rather of attempting to financially benefit from the stolen data that was shared on an online forum.

The AFP, in collaboration with state partners and industry, are continuing to search online forums and other sites for criminal activity related to this breach.
Gough also added that the arrest of one person does not mean the investigation is over and there might be more.

A separate investigation into the data breach itself, led by the AFP under the codename ‘Operation Hurricane’, is also ongoing.